Archive | June, 2016

‘Australia, I love you. But…’

20 Jun

While exploring Spoken Word poetry online I happened upon a collection of Spokhen Word performances gathered together under the heading ‘Australia, I love you.  But…’  As flagged in the title, the poetry flags issues that ordinary, culturally diverse Australians have with the nation.  Rather than complaints, these poems come across as pleas for the nation to do better.

In particular, I found Troy Wong’s contribution interesting.  In his poem, he explored the experience of being an Asian male in Australia.  I was also interested in the contributions of Sarah Saleh and Imran Etri.  Saleh and Etri spoke about their experiences of being Muslim women in Australia.  In doing so, they touched upon the idea of being doubly oppressed by gender and culture.

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Institutionalised inequality

19 Jun

Maxine Beneba Clarke wrote a poem in 2014 in response to the shooting of Tamir Rice at the hands of police.  In this poem, entitled ‘Even if it gets to 104 degrees’, a mother speaks to her son and reminds him of the special burden placed on African American boys to behave in ways that overtly respectful and suspicion.  She remind him that many of the things other boys can do, he cannot.  Why? Because “black boys got shot for less.”

I would love to teach this poem alongside Blythe Baird’s ‘Pocket-sized Feminism‘, a spoken word poem in which the poem eloquently and powerfully explores gendered expectations and perceptions.   Through this poem it is implied that being a woman is accompanied by extra burdens – social norms which determine behaviour and dictate responses.

I think this poems would pair well as both discuss the notion that identity does not exist in a vacuum divorced from social norms and expectations.

 

Poetry about grief

13 Jun

Today I was reminded of a poem I read a while ago, Sophie Hannah’s ‘Your Dad Did What?‘  In that poem, a student seeks to express his grief regarding his experiences during the school holidays.  At first, his teacher does not recognise the sorrow, the anger, the pain.  It is only in the last stanza that the realisation occurs.

This poem is simple but powerful.  I love the wordplay, and I love the way the emotional tenor changes as the poem progresses.

Thinking about ‘Your Dad Did What?’ also reminded me of Rob Gibsun’s spoke word poem entitled ‘On Grief & Healing‘.  This poem would make an interesting comparative text for ‘Your Dad Did What?’ as it, unlike Hannah’s poem, cycles through the range of emotions experienced after the death of a loved one.

Friday Fictioneers: ‘Mask’

12 Jun

As she does each week, Rochelle has issued the Friday Fictioneers community a challenge to write a 100 word story in response to a provided photo prompt.  This time, the prompt is a repeat.  I quite liked the story I wrote the first time, and think my second attempt is stilted and lacks the creativity of the first.  That said, I did enjoy the challenge of having to think about the prompt from a different perspective.

‘Mask’

She left me with her children.  Them and me.  For three hours.

We’d talked about this moment, but then it had been hypothetical.

Now, it was real.

What if they don’t like me?  They had to like me – HAD TO – I really like their mum.

I approach them, a nervous grin gracing my weather-worn face.

They stare, unsure.  Then, they consult.

Mia appoints herself spokeswoman: “We don’t like you. Go away.”

I do.

I grab the mask from the box at the top of the wardrobe and wrangle it over my face.

I return.

“Bruce?”

“Scuba Sam,” I reply.

Friday Fictioneers: ‘Separation’

2 Jun

I thought I would get in early this week.  As per usual, all 100 word stories are written in response to the visual stimulus provided on Rochelle’s blog.  My contribution for this week is below.

‘Separation’

After we purchased the land, I began designing our house: a kitchen to accommodate messy family breakfasts, a living room with a sofa on which we could snuggle.

Around this time, he began setting out plans for his shed, a man-cave in which he could escape the dramas of domesticity.

The marriage was rocky and, several years and children later, we treated each other with stony indifference.

Separation.

In the divorce he was granted the shed at the bottom of the garden.

He lives there now.  Alone.  Away from the drama.  Away from his children.  Missing out on their lives.